Director’s Dicta: January 2024, week 1
TxC enters 2024 with great energy, demonstrated success, and a bold plan of action for TxC 2.0. Part of our excitement stems from the anticipated formal launching of the Irenaeus Institute. Dr. Jones conceived of this Institute years ago and only now can we – with your help – bring it into reality.
The Irenaeus Institute will be the content-generating and training hub for TxC 2.0 and thereby will expand and accelerate the impact of TxC. More on this in coming weeks. At the outset, let’s ask: why call it the Irenaeus Institute?
The Institute is named after an early Church Father, Bishop, and apologist from Gaul (France). While opinions differ, Irenaeus (130-202 AD) is often considered the theological standout when compared with contemporaries Tertullian and Hippolytus. His apologetic is comprehensive, realistic, and enabling. Given Irenaeus’s accomplishments, the TxC Institute aptly carries his moniker.
A Comprehensive Apologetic
First, Irenaeus comprehensively defended the Christian Faith against its strongest challenge: the heresy of Gnosticism. This is a crucial point. Irenaeus understood that Gnostic errors were not simply about unorthodox discrete doctrinal points such as denying the Creator became incarnate, or that matter itself is evil, but rather Gnosticism comprises an entire worldview system, including a cosmology. As such, Gnosticism challenged early Christianity in toto. Irenaeus responded with a five–volume systematic rebuttal which dismantled the Gnostic system, using Holy Scripture and apostolic teaching – he was a direct student of Polycarp, who had studied under the Apostle John. The TxC Hermeneutic – Oneism/Twoism – derived from Scripture – does the same thing by explaining comprehensively what’s occurring spiritually and why – and thus how to effectively remedy it. TxC focuses on remedying systems instead of hopelessly wringing our hands over symptoms.
A Reality-Based Apologetic
Second, Irenaeus used the actual Creator God (and His Incarnate Son) as his starting point in developing his apologetic – not Greek speculation about an unmoved-Mover nor positing a general theism nor some baptized Logos. Thus, Irenaeus countered Gnosticism with “real reality” – or as Francis Schaeffer would say, “The God Who is There.” In the same way, TxC presupposes the reality of the Creator God revealed in the Bible and His Son, who is Prophet, Priest, and King – the Blessed Hope who alone desires, can, and does save sinners and redeems the fallen created order by the Power of the Holy Spirit: The One God in three Persons. Far from musing abstractly, TxC likewise begins with the actual Creator and His created order. Neo-paganism – a form of Gnosticism – in contrast rejects “real reality” and thus traps people in systemic unbelief. The Gospel’s light of real reality is the best disinfectant.
An Enabling Apologetic
Third, because Irenaeus was the first theologian to tackle the work and person of Christ in a systematic way, he set the table for the crucial work of later apologists and Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian. Similarly, the TxC Institute will identify, train, and deploy the next generation of Christians – armed with a comprehensive worldview – to permeate and then enrich all disciplines and callings. Dr. Jones’ work has “set the table.” The Institute will leverage that work by equipping others to “take it to the streets” – which incidentally constitutes the theme of the TxC 2024 Symposium (August 30 & 31, 2024) – more on that in coming weeks.
Irenaeus leaves a lofty legacy. He combatted Gnosticism by not only refuting errors, but by setting forth and invoking the cosmology that God the Creator established. And, he understood that it is only in that context that the redemption wrought by the Savior can be rightly understood and applied to all of life. The Gospel, which saves the world that God loved, can only rightly be understood in reference to the world God created. The Irenaeus Institute will both honor and animate that legacy for Christ, Church, & Culture during this time between Creation and Consummation.
For more on Irenaeus, see:
- Berkof, The History of Christian Doctrines
- Latourette, A History of Christianity, Vol. 1
- Brown, Heresies – Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church